March 22, 2023 | The Idaho state legislature has passed a bill that would allow the state to execute individuals by firing squad if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.
The bill is headed to Gov. Brad Little’s desk with a veto-proof majority, meaning Gov. Little has no choice but to sign it.
Idaho is among several other states that have struggled to obtain lethal injection drugs as a growing number of pharmaceutical companies refuse to sell their products to correctional facilities for the purpose of executions.
Only four other states currently have laws permitting execution by firing squad: Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah.
There is no doubt that this bill was prompted, at least in part, by the state’s ongoing efforts to execute Gerald Pizzuto, Jr., a man who is dying from terminal bladder cancer. Idaho has previously set three execution dates for Mr. Pizzuto, but all have been stayed due to the state’s inability to acquire the necessary drugs.
As Idaho Senator Dan Foreman noted, the burden of trauma that will be placed on all who participate in a firing squad execution is undeniable.
“I've seen the aftermath of shootings, and it's psychologically damaging to anybody who witnesses it,” Foreman said. “The use of the firing squad is, in my opinion, beneath the dignity of the state of Idaho.”
The Catholic Diocese of Boise released a statement following this bill’s passing saying, “The death penalty has not proven to be a deterrent against crime; discriminates against the poor and minorities who usually cannot afford effective counsel; sometimes results in the execution of innocent people; and, most importantly, it deprives the guilty of whatever time God allows them for personal redemption. The Catholic Church advocates for more restorative responses to harm that prioritize healing, accountability, and upholding the human dignity of all individuals, no matter the harm they may have caused or suffered.”